Tragedy on Elmendorf--BG Thomas L. Tinsley, 3rd Wing Commander, dies of a gunshot wound--UPDATE: Was Tinsley under extra pressure?
Photo courtesy of USAF, Tinsley Bio
Per the ADN:
The commander of the 3rd Wing at Elmendorf Air Force Base died of what is being described as a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest at his on-base home Sunday night, the Air Force said this afternoon.
The Air Force is investigating and can't say whether the shot that killed Brig. Gen. Thomas L. Tinsley was accidental or a suicide, Col. Richard Walberg said in a press conference.
Tinsley did not leave a suicide note.
Tinsley was declared dead around 10:30 p.m., according to a statement issued by the Air Force early this morning.
A video of the press conference with Col. Richard Walberg can be found HERE.
I know that this is an ongoing investigation and they are unsure if it is suicide or an accident. However, I knew that the Air Force has been under a huge shake-up for the last two months and wondered if that had put any extra pressure on BG Tinsley. Here is a story from June 5th:
WASHINGTON (AP) - Defense Secretary Robert Gates ousted the Air Force's top military and civilian leaders Thursday, holding them to account in a historic Pentagon shake-up after embarrassing nuclear mix-ups.
Gates announced at a news conference that he had accepted the resignations of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Moseley and Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne - a highly unusual double firing.
Gates said his decision was based mainly on the damning conclusions of an internal report on the mistaken shipment to Taiwan of four Air Force electrical fuses for ballistic missile warheads. And he linked the underlying causes of that slip-up to another startling incident: the flight last August of a B-52 bomber that was mistakenly armed with six nuclear-tipped cruise missiles.
The report drew the stunning conclusion that the Air Force's nuclear standards have been in a long decline, a "problem that has been identified but not effectively addressed for over a decade."
These incidents began in August of 2006.
Later in the article:
Gates also announced that "a substantial number" of Air Force general officers and colonels were identified in the Donald report as potentially subject to disciplinary measures that range from removal from command to letters of reprimand. He said he would direct the yet-to-be-named successors to Wynne and Moseley to evaluate those identified culprits and decide what disciplinary actions are warranted - "or whether they can be part of the solution" to the problems found by Donald.This from BG Tinsley's resume:
August 2005 - May 2007, executive officer to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.I found this headline, from today:
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Air Force's logistics chief resigned Monday, saying the recent leadership shake up by Defense Secretary Robert Gates has hurt his ability to do his job.
In a sharply worded memo obtained by The Associated Press, William Anderson said the changes limit his ability to take care of the airmen and their families with the vigor they deserve.
"I can no longer draw on a critical mass of leadership within the Pentagon who share your vision for the support necessary to lean forward to aggressively support these American heroes," Anderson said in a memo to Bush.
This could all be coincidental and completely unrelated to the sad events of Sunday. However, the timing struck me as potentially significant.
Let me also be clear: I am NOT insinuating that BG Tinsley did anything wrong. It is also far from my intention to add to the pain of the family at this time. As an almost-15-year former employee of the military, I learned that excellent, caring officers are tarnished by controversy because the responsible big-wigs deflect the blame. I hope this is not the case with BG Tinsley.